Born into a grape growing family in Red Cliffs, near Mildura in Northern Victoria, Don Lewis spent the weekends of his teenage years pruning, picking and doing tractor work, whilst his mates were off having fun.
When he finally “escaped”, he swore never to get involved in vineyards again. But, despite all attempts, Don found himself in 1973 accepting the position of Assistant Winemaker to Colin Preece at Mitchelton winery. It was in his blood.
18 years and many wine show awards later, Don won the 1991 Jimmy Watson Trophy for his Mitchelton 1990 Print Shiraz, cementing his name in Australian wine industry history.
After 32 years of producing multi-award winning wines at Mitchelton, in 2004 Don moved into a consultancy position, enabling him to pursue his own interests. Known for being innovative, open and experimental, Don’s role at Mitchelton included several years involvement with a joint venture in Spain making wines from Tempranillo and Albarino. It was here Don’s interest in European varietals was sparked and so, alongside colleague Narelle King, in 2006 began the creation of Tar & Roses.
Whilst travelling in South America after university, Narelle met a young Australian winemaker who had just completed vintage in Argentina and who lived in France. This lifestyle and the wine business appealed to her greatly, so on returning to Australia, Narelle promptly enrolled in a Winemaking Degree at Charles Sturt University and has never looked back.
With previous qualifications as a Chartered Accountant, key accounts experience for a major spirits company and her extensive travel history, Narelle was offered a position at Mitchelton winery, involving accountancy and some cellar work. It was here Narelle met Don Lewis and both a strong friendship and great working relationship was forged.